Food waste is termed as food discarded by retailers because of its appearance and plate waste by consumers. Wastage of food takes place throughout the entire production spectrum, from the farm to distribution, retailers, and subsequently to the consumers. Some examples of food waste include: sour milk poured down the drain, food scraps after meal preparation at home, as well as half-eaten meals left on a plate at restaurants. This paper will discuss why food waste is a significant problem, the impact of food waste, and how it can be avoided.
Why food waste is a challenge
Wastage of food has ramifications both globally as well as nationally. In the United States of America, 40% of all produced food goes uneaten. In comparison, approximately 95% of discarded food is thrown out to landfills, which occupy a third of the fertile land areas. In agriculture, the use of precise cutting, tree felling, and chemical additives destroys the sustainable and regenerative properties of the earth and depletes soil faster than nature can restore it. Similarly, decomposing food waste produces methane, a greenhouse gas that largely contributes to global warming. Food waste is responsible for more than twenty-five percent of the general freshwater consumption. It is also the leading cause of freshwater pollution. Food waste also wastes money spent on growing, processing, storing, and disposal of food not consumed. Such acts strain natural resources, for example, energy, labor, land, and water (Ishangulyyev, Kim, & Lee, 2019).
Impact of food waste
The impact of food waste is wide-reaching. A lot of people, as well as businesses, are affected when food goes to waste. Large chain stores lose a lot of money annually because of unsold vegetables and fruits, which go to waste. This subsequently increases the burden of work for waste management companies. Wastage of food attracts wild animals, which are harmed when they consume decaying food. Thus, their numbers are affected, as well as reproduction patterns. This, in turn, affects the predator-prey relationship. Wastage of food also brings about economic losses.
Ways of avoiding food waste
First of all, food waste can be reduced by improving product development, storage, shopping/ordering, marketing, labeling, and cooking methods. Food waste can also be reduced by linking potential food donors to organizations dealing with hunger relief programs, such as pantries and food banks. Food waste can also be avoided by recycling food waste to create animal feeds or even creating of compost, natural fertilizers, and bioenergy. Individual consumers, retail outlets, supermarkets, and large restaurants can also reduce their food prints by identifying instances where food waste occurs and taking necessary steps to tackle the problem. Also, people might perceive misshaped vegetables and fruits as rotten. Sensitization needs to be done that such vegetables and fruits are still edible and can be used in dishes such as soup. Lastly, food consumers ought to buy food according to their meal plan to avoid wasting food.
Wastage of food takes place throughout the entire production spectrum, from the farm to distribution, retailers, and subsequently to the consumers. Waste is categorized in two ways. Food loss takes place before the food gets into the hands of the consumer due to challenges in distribution, processing, storage, and production. On the other hand, food waste is called food that is viable to consume but gets discarded during the consumption phase or in retail stores. To prevent food waste, several measures can be taken. The local and state governments can integrate food waste education and prevention campaigns (Bajzelj, Quested, Roos, & Swannell, 2020). Businesses, for example, institutional food services, grocery stores, and restaurants can evaluate the extent of food waste to adopt best practices.
Bajzelj, B., Quested, T., Roos, E., & Swannell, R. (2020). The role of reducing food waste for resilient food systems. Ecosystem Services, 45, 101140.
Ishangulyyev, R., Kim, S., & Lee, S. H. (2019). Understanding Food Loss and Waste—Why Are We Losing and Wasting Food? Foods, 8(8), 297.